Swedish Mariculture Research Center, SWEMARC, is one of six University of Gothenburg's strong research based on important and current social issues. One of the largest global challenges is to increase production of healthy food to meet the demands of an increasing population - in a sustainable and environment friendly way. SWEMARC wants to contribute education and knowledge on aquaculture in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals through interdisciplinary activities and partnerships with societal actors.
In 2050, the world population is expected to exceed 9.5 billion people. The surface of the Earth constitutes 29% land and 71% water, mainly oceans. Today we produce most of our food on land, with only a small portion (6-7%) in the ocean. The marine environment is thus a huge unutilised resource with tremendous potential for increased food production. Fish, and other animals from the ocean and algae, are called seafood and is very nutritious food. It contains high quality proteins and is rich in Omega-3 fats, vitamins and trace elements. Being able to increase the seafood consumption would provide major health benefits. As commercial fisheries are at their maximum, the only sustainable solution to meet an increased demand for seafood is aquaculture!
The main goal of SWEMARC is to increase the marine aquaculture in an environmentally friendly way through interdisciplinary and community engaging research.
There is a huge potential for increased food production in marine environments through the so called ”Blue catch crops”. These are animal and algae from the lower levels of the food web that do not need to be fed – instead they use needed nutrients directly from the ocean. Therefore, “Blue catch crops” constitutes a very resource efficient food production.
Farmed fish and shellfish that need to be fed is also a more sustainable food production, in comparison to food production on land. This is because farmed fish and shellfish has an increased “food conversion”. This means that they are good at converting feed to growth and food for us.
Aquaculture, like all meat production, causes, however, nutrient emissions via the animals’ excrements. SWEMARC aims to minimize these by developing new, innovative farming techniques. Recirculating systems on land and multi-species farming in the ocean with circulation of nutrients that can be used in different levels of the food web are some examples SWEMARC will develop further.
The production of fish feed not dependent on wild-caught fish for fish and shellfish, is another important issue. SWEMARC will study how we can create re-circulation, where raw materials from algae, mussels and benthic animals can be used in fish feed. New aquaculture species from different animal groups and development of attractive exciting and nutritious products from these species is also a focus area for SWEMARC.
Development of sustainable marine aquaculture is not limited to biology and technology, but must include economic, legal and societal responsibility. It is also essential to increase public awareness of sustainable mariculture and the health benefits of seafood. Within SWEMARC, we have therefore gathered leading research groups in social, economic, legal, oceanographic, biology and design research.